Repercussions of Giants' collapse could run deep

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:13 PM ET

TORONTO - There isn’t a place on Earth that revels in probing the wound more than New York. And what happened to the Giants, individually and collectively, on Sunday amounts to the mother of all wounds.

Up 21 with eight minutes to play. Lose by seven on the last play of regulation. You could write a book about the final 500 seconds of Philadelphia’s 38-31 comeback thriller and somebody probably will.

With 8:28 left in the game, Eli Manning delivered his fourth touchdown pass of the game to Kevin Boss, giving New York a 31-10 lead and a stranglehold on the NFC East title.

Then it began to unravel, imperceptibly at first, but by the time it was over, heads were spinning. And, over the long haul, heads will probably roll.

Rookie Matt Dodge has become the lightning rod for his brain-dead punt to DeSean Jackson, after he had been ordered to kick the ball out of bounds. But by that crucial moment, the Eagles had already tied the game, scoring three times in six minutes on drives of 75, 57 and 30 yards against the Giants’ shell-shocked defence.

This was the Three Mile Island of football collapses, where every fail-safe system blew a gasket. Dodge’s gaffe just happened to be the last of many as Jackson scooted 75 yards for the game-winning, game-ending TD.

This wasn’t the agonizing torture of the 2004 Yankees loss in the ALCS, after coming within one inning of a four-game sweep. And it wasn’t that infamous 1978 Joe Pisarcik fumble returned by Philly’s Herman Edwards for a game-winning TD on a botched handoff in the dying seconds.

Multiple co-conspirators had a hand in this outrageous collapse and Monday they were all trying to digest the consequences. Co-captain Eli Manning addressed the team, trying to get them focused on the final two games, which are now vital for the team just to make the playoffs.

“We can’t hang our head, we don’t have time to moan about it,” Manning said. “We watched the film, we see what went wrong and put it behind us.”

The Giants travel to Green Bay to face the Packers next Sunday and can clinch a playoff spot with a win.

“It is not the time right now to start going into the tank or slacking off or being in a bad mood,” Manning said. “Now is the time when we got to be excited and look at the bright side of things and be optimistic and say we got a great opportunity to make the playoffs.”

If this team somehow misses the playoffs, it is difficult to believe Tom Coughlin will survive. Not after this. And making the playoffs might not be even enough, especially with Bill Cowher making noises to the effect that his dream job is to coach the Giants.

Coughlin has a year left on his contract and has the public support of co-owner John Mara, but if the team cannot rally in Green Bay, or in their final game in Washington, you can bet he’s toast.

“We’ll find out if we can recover. It’s hard to envision the way to recover from this,” defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. “There’s no blueprint for what we do to get over this.”

“Why?” — Vick

Like everyone else at the Meadowlands, Michael Vick thought the game was going to overtime. Yes, the Eagles had chased the New York offence off the field in the last minute but all Matt Dodge had to do was kick the ball out of bounds, instead of giving Jackson a chance to return it.

“Why would he kick it to DeSean?” said Vick.

Not even Dodge had an answer. He had intended to follow orders but the snap was a little high and when he finally oriented himself for the kick, he nailed a line-drive right at Jackson. The rest is history.

Credit Philly coach Andy Reid that Jackson was even on the field. Jackson hadn’t worked on the special teams because he was nursing a foot sprain.

But when the Eagles defence held, Reid beckoned his receiver.

“He whistled, and I looked up because you know that whistle is from coach Reid,” Jackson said. “And he said, ‘Get your butt back there.’ So I went back there, and even when I’m on the field he keeps whistling at me. He’s whistling and whistling, and I’m looking at him on the sideline. He said, ‘Look it in. Look it in. Make sure you’re good.’ I’m like, ‘Coach, I got this, man.’ ”

Indeed, he did.


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